Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Brit Milah part 2

I post regularly to Facebook and Google+, and to a Fujifilm forum. The responses I received on the
forum concerning my first entry about the Brit Milah were quite interesting and encouraged me to write once again about it and post more photos of the event.

Apparently people took exception with my description of the occasion as 'joyous' because the photos didn't seem to portray people who were enjoying themselves. I'm not one to get picky about semantics, but to me the expression of joy has more to do with the feeling of rapture and the expression of good fortune than simple happiness which is fleeting and temporary. The joy expressed in the celebration of the ritual of Brit Milah has much more to do with the rapture of connecting to over three thousand years of ancestry to Abraham, and ultimately to G-d. It is the result of the knowing that one's life is in service to the G-d of one's own understanding, whatever that may be.

I'd bet that most of the derogatory comments on my post were from people who are either atheists or agnostics, or people who have a grudge about the spiritual environment in which they were raised.

The mohel performing the surgery:

One of the great-grandfathers:

Friends of the father:

Cousins of the newly initiated (I think describing the events to imma):

Engaging with the spirit of the celebration:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Brit Milah

The Brit Milah or ritual circumcision is celebrated on the eighth day of life of a newborn Jewish male child. It was first performed by Abraham (when he was 99 years old, yikes!) as a sign of his covenant with G-d. The meaning and significance of the ritual is of profound significance, much too complicated for me to engage with here. Much more information can be found here. But it's a joyous occasion, except for the baby, with much celebrating.

The father preparing to put on tefillin before the ceremony.

Grandfather (on the right) and great-grandfather (on the left).

Both Grandfathers.

The child and uncle before the ceremony;

Father and son before the ceremony.

Grandfather holding the child while the mohel (a rabbi with surgical training) performs the procedure.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday on the Mitzvah Tank

I happen to walk by the intersection of 57th street and Fifth avenue at 2pm this afternoon. The Chabad Mitzvah Tank, which is a bus converted into a small synagogue, was, as usual, parked there and one of the resident rabbis was outside trying to find a few people to complete a minyan (a quorum of 10 men necessary to conduct a legitimate service). I joined the group for the afternoon mincha prayer service. Hanging out in the tank, it's always interesting to see Jewish people, that have not been very observant, brought in and see them experience putting on tifillin, and participating in the 15 minute afternoon service.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Challah/Pizza Baking Day

It was a baking day at the Chabad House in town. Challah braiding in the morning and pizza in the afternoon. The guys had a bit of trouble with the braiding concept. Everyone had a blast making a mess and some yummy pizza with milchig (dairy) toppings.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Shabbat Candles

Just before Shabbat (the day of rest) begins the women of the home light candles to usher in the peaceful and blessed ambiance of the day to the home. It's a beautiful ritual that I've been trying to capture for quite a while. I'm getting closer to the feeling, but I haven't quite gotten in yet.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Lessons

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony is a marking of the coming-of-age of a child, for boys at 13 and for girls at 12, that marks the development of a child into an adult. The children put in months of effort to learn the ins and outs of the proscribed mitzvahs and the importance of learning them so as to deepen the meaning of what it means to be Jewish.

Boys learn how to wrap Tefillin, and upon fulfillment of the ritual of Bar Mitzvah, which usually involves reading a portion of the Torah (maftir) and a portion of one of the book of Prophets (haftorah) the young man is counted as part of a minyan (one of the ten men needed to perform certain rites and rituals of daily observance).

It's a tough age to get kids to sit in their seats to learn from the rabbi, and it requires incredible patience on the part of the rabbi to teach kids whose hormones are just beginning to rage.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A New Torah - part 2

Here's a few more shots from the ceremony of writing the final lines into the Torah scroll. Natural light was streaming in from a picture window on the right. That, combined with the light of the lamp and my bounce flash made for a very dynamic scene.